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Father Muench Says...

Jesus chooses his apostles

Sept. 14, 2022

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

This week at one of the daily Masses, the Gospel reading was from Luke’s memory of the day Jesus chose the twelve apostles. The Gospel tells us that Jesus spent the whole night in prayer. This was to be an important decision for Jesus, so he prayed long. It is good for us to remember that Jesus often spent long hours in prayer. I can imagine the Lord praying for wisdom as he prepared to make many of his decisions.

We know who he chose. The names are familiar to us. Although we do not know about some of them, there are some with whom we are quite familiar. We know a great deal about Peter. There are many stories in the Gospels about Peter. We also know all about Peter’s mistakes; there was the three times Peter denied even knowing Jesus, when he denied that he did not even know Jesus at the time of Jesus’ arrest. However, we know that Peter was to trust Jesus and believed in his forgiveness. Jesus obviously recognized Peter’s faith. He realized Peter would be a strong leader despite his failings. Jesus welcomed Peter back to the twelve in forgiveness and love. In fact, he made him the leader of the twelve.

We know of Peter’s brother, Andrew. Andrew has always been one of my favorite apostles; my first parish as a pastor was dedicated to St. Andrew. In addition, we know the sons of Zebedee, the brothers James and John. They often accompanied Peter, and the three of them accompanied Jesus on certain important experiences, including the time of the Transfiguration of the Lord.

We do have the names of the others. We know something about a few of them. About others, we know nothing at all – Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James, the son of Alphaeus, Simon, the Zealot, Judas, the son of James, and, finally, Judas Iscariot. I would like to spend a day with Matthew. We know he was a tax collector. I would be interested to learn how he got to know Jesus and why he was chosen as an apostle by Jesus.

And I would like to spend some time with Judas Iscariot. We know well the story of Judas as a traitor. Many think that Judas was considered to be one of the most dedicated of the apostles. Yet, he lost faith in Jesus. Possibly he just became disappointed and lost faith in Jesus’ plan. Personally, I am saddened that Judas took his own life after betraying Jesus. He could not believe that Jesus would forgive him. I am certain Jesus would have forgiven him. I believe Jesus would have welcomed him back just as he forgave Peter.

I must admit that it must have been quite a day, that day Jesus chose the twelve as his apostles and friends. The followers of Jesus throughout the ages continued to wonder why Jesus chose such very ordinary people as apostles. They were non-professionals. They had no wealth, no position.

Jesus chose common people who did ordinary things. They had no special education. It seemed that Jesus wanted ordinary people who could accept challenges and could do them in extraordinary ways. Jesus chose these men not for what they were but for what they would be capable of becoming with his direction.

Jesus teaches this message for us now It is a lesson for people of all time, a lesson that has always been the same. Jesus continues to choose us just like those original apostles, the people who will continue to give ourselves unreservedly to God. When the Lord calls us to save, to do something, we must not step back because we think we have nothing to offer. The Lord will take what seems like ordinary people – like us – to show us the way and to lead us and guide us for the greatness of the kingdom.

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